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.   INTRODUCTORY   ESSAY.                                    13
best qualified to do it justice, it falls into the hands of a class
of naturalists, whose ideas seldom rise above species, and who,
by what has well been called hair-splitting, tend to bring the
study of these into disrepute.
It will generally be found that botanists who confine their
attention to the vegetation of a circumscribed area, take a
much more contracted view of the limits of species, than
those who extend their investigations over the whole surface
of the globe. This is partly, no doubt, owing to the force of
bad example; and partly to the fact that the student who
takes up the study of the flora of his native country, finds
that the species are all tolerably well known, and that no
novelty is to be discovered. There is therefore a natural ten-
dency to make use of trifling differences, from the scope which
they afford for minute observation and critical disquisition;
whilst the more close comparison of the few species which
come under his investigation, leads the local botanist to attach
undue importance to differences which tlie experienced ob-
server knows may be safely attributed to local circumstances.
To tliis tendency there can be no limit, when the philosophy
of system is not understood; the distinctions which appeared
trifling to botaniats a quarter of a century ago, are at the pre-
sent day so magnified by this class of observers, that they
constantly discover novelties in regions which have been tho-
roughly well explored; considering as such, ibrms with which
our predecessors were well acquainted, atid which they rightly
regarded as varieties*.
Another result of the depreciated stale of systematic bo-
tany is, that Imelligcut student*, being repelled by the pueri-
lities vyhicli thoy everywhere encounter, and ^];k'h impede
llifc-H* progress, turn tlicir attention to physiology before they
liavo acquired evon the rudiments of cliLssification, or au ele-
jumtary practical acquaintance with the characters of the ua-
* Many of the ^pociotj which tuive IXHMI revived, m moilcm f juri, wore iridi-
<*Mt«tl by Jlnllcr. Ray> Tounwrforl, and other amuunt butuu&Ui, but wor
to thi» nuik of vurk'tiiv^ wlion tho w;.iyi%ce was n*io"j.iud by